Our planet's air has cleared up in the past decade or two, allowing more sunshine to reach the ground, say two studies in Science this week.
Reductions in industrial emissions in many countries, along with the use of particulate filters for car exhausts and smoke stacks, seem to have reduced the amount of dirt in the atmosphere and made the sky more transparent.
That sounds like very good news. But the researchers say that more solar energy arriving on the ground will also make the surface warmer, and this may add to the problems of global warming. More sunlight will also have knock-on effects on cloud cover, winds, rainfall and air temperature that are difficult to predict.
The results suggest that a downward trend in the amount of sunlight reaching the surface, which has been observed since measurements began in the late 1950s, is now over.